Many ants are predatory, feeding on all life stages of other insects including eggs. People may be annoyed when ants invade their home, contaminate their food, or build “unsightly” mounds in their otherwise green lawns. Under-appreciated is the role of ants in suppressing insect herbivores that damage lawns.
Japanese beetles lay their eggs near the soil surface and larvae feed on the roots of grass causing damage to the turf. In a golf course study, López & Potter* found that in fairways with abundant ants, over 70% of Japanese Beetle eggs were removed as compared to fewer than 20% in areas where ants were suppressed with pesticide baits. Populations of turf-damaging Japanese Beetle Grubs were many times higher in areas where ant populations were controlled. Ants in your lawn can add biodiversity & provide pest control that may be prevent worse problems.
This Easter, ants all over the world will be conducting their own egg hunts.
*Rolando López & Daniel A. Potter. 2000. Ant Predation on Eggs and Larvae of the Black Cutworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Japanese Beetle (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in Turfgrass. Environ. Entomol. 29: 116-125.